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September 2, 2020

The Influence of Ag-Conscious Youth in the 2020 Presidential Election

The political and agricultural involvement among American youth is growing.

In recent years, the increasing influence of young people who are advocating for social or political change is apparent. Combined with the growing involvement of youth within the agricultural community, these societal shifts will likely play a significant role in the outcome of the upcoming presidential election.

Whether it’s a suburban teen passionate about the preservation of the environment or the child of a farmer directly involved in the caretaking of land and livestock, agriculture is becoming a growing topic of interest for the increasingly influential and dynamic American youth.

The Growing Presence of Youth in Agriculture and American Politics

There is a growing interest among America’s youth around various aspects of agriculture. The number of agricultural producers under 34 rose more than 26 percent from the 2012 Census of Agriculture to the 2017 Ag Census, meaning an estimated 75,000 more young Americans joined the agriculture industry. Factors impacting the growth in agricultural involvement of American youth include family involvement, environmental activism, and an increase in food source awareness.

Family Involvement and Generational Responsibility

Agricultural awareness among youth is impart tied to first-hand involvement with family farm operations. Out of the more than 2 million farms in America, 98 percent are family-owned operations. That means an estimated 1.96 million U.S. farms involve members of the American youth in the success of their farm operation. Out of these American family-owned farms, more than 38 percent plan to pass down their farm operation to the next generation.

The direct involvement of American youth in farming and agriculture as a whole is not only increasing, but it is also of growing importance as younger generations reach the age to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Environmental Activism

Beyond generational responsibility, we see young people taking a strong interest in agriculture due to the growing concerns of environmental health and climate change.  Environmental topics of concern for American youth include,

  • Greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Minimizing our carbon footprint;
  • Sustaining a growing population;
  • Renewable energy; and
  • Land conservation.

For example, most are aware of the growing population and therefore higher demand for production and labor. According to internal AgAmerica analysis, population growth will require a 60 percent increase in agriculture production by 2050, however, worldwide croplands are projected to increase by only four percent during that time. This new wave of environmentally aware young people could mean a future of more efficient resources to promote regenerative and sustainable agriculture as well as keep American farmlands preserved and protected.

Increased Awareness Around Food Sources

Newfound awareness of how the food we eat directly impacts our planet and our bodies has made itself present in all generations, including American youth. Many have become increasingly interested in understanding where our food comes from, including the way it’s produced, processed, and transported. This information guides younger generations to use their money as their voice and choose more locally-sourced options when it comes to fresh produce, meat, and dairy products.

A growing number of young people are becoming more health-conscious and want to do their part in terms of environmental activism. Food source awareness is one of the main points of action on these topics that can be easily implemented by American youth. 

How Political Involvement for Youth Has Changed Since Past Elections

Without a doubt, today’s youth has become significantly more involved in politics. The age of social networking empowers young Americans to spark movements with just one viral post on the internet.

According to Pew Research Center, 13 percent of the voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election was under the age of thirty—meaning approximately 17.9 million young Americans participated in the 2016 election. Recent projections show that Millennials and Generation Z will make up 37 percent of the 2020 presidential electorate.

“The active participation of youths in politics must be seen as a beacon of hope for attaining purposeful and sustainable political leadership and stability.”

Suliver Research Organization

Election Campaign Strategies Geared Towards Younger Generations

Considering American youth’s growing passion for agricultural and environmental health in addition to the rising participation of young voters, the upcoming presidential election will be quite the tell of the impact of young voices in America.  As candidates develop and promote their points of action to the country, traces of youth influence are beginning to make themselves known in different points of concern in candidates’ campaigns. Political figures are beginning to understand the importance of appealing to younger generations now more than ever.

The Future of American Agriculture

Thus far, 2020 has been a year of uncertainty. However, there is much hope for the future. This growing generation of politically active, ag-conscious youth could fuel a deeper level of awareness and care for American farmers and the land they steward.

Of the nearly two million family-owned farms in the U.S., each one could represent a new generation of passion for the agricultural way of life. Each acre of rural farmland preserved and protected could represent a fruitful business down the road. This next generation of Americans symbolizes a future where farmers and their land are continuously cared for and considered.

At AgAmerica, we believe in the future of agriculture and understand that family-owned farms are the backbone of our society. We not only care for the present success of these family businesses, but we also want to ensure success for future generations to come. It is our mission to support both the foundation of agricultural roots and the future of this essential industry as it continues to evolve.

If you would like to learn more about how AgAmerica can support you in starting a farm or with the succession plan process of your existing operation, please contact us today.

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